July 5th, 2021
Warm temperatures, bustling pollinators, and emerging summer blooms signal that the hot months of summer are here and with them, an expansive new array of summer color in the garden. Among other carefree, usual suspects brightening up gardens and making their presence known, Liatris spicata (ly-AT-riss spi-KAH-tuh) sets itself apart from the rest, offering a uniquely breathtaking spire of color sure to liven up any garden space.
Native to the eastern United States and Canada, Liatris, also commonly known as gayfeather or blazing star, is a versatile plant, preferring to be planted in moist, well-drained soil in full sun, yet tolerating a wide array of soil conditions, and thriving in many garden settings including prairie gardens, pollinator gardens, and rain gardens. Liatris plants arise from modified stem storage organs called corms, from which delicate, narrow green foliage arises to heights of four to six feet depending on variety and site conditions.
While Liatris are of the Aster family, Asteraceae, their flowers are quite unique, comprised of terminal flower spikes upwards of a foot long with rounded, fluffy, usually purple flower heads blooming prolifically from the top of the spike downward. Blooming mid to late summer, many excellent varieties are available, including the gorgeous purple of Liatris spicata ‘Kobold,’ the beautiful violet of ‘Floristan Violet,’ or the unique white blooms of ‘Floristan White.’
An exceptional pollinator favorite, local pollinators will be paying you a visit as well, especially butterflies including our native Swallowtail and Monarch butterflies. After blooming, flower spikes may be trimmed away, however their leaves will persist, providing foliage interest throughout the rest of the season and into fall, where they will fade to a wonderful golden color in the garden.